Scores 307, 955 as Ize-Iyamu polls 223,616
Buhari commends exercise as APC rejects results
‘Not yet sunset for guber contestant’
By Patrick Okohue, Titus Akhigbe & Nosa Akenzua
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki was on Sunday declared winner of the state’s governorship election, following a bitter campaign that pitched him and his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and alleged political godfather, former APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole.
The Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Petroleum Resources, Effuru, Prof. Akpofure RimRukeh, announced the result after its collation in Benin on Sunday afternoon. Obaseki polled a total of 307,955 votes to defeat Ize-Iyamu who scored 223,619.
A total of 14 candidates participated in the contest, which had the total number of accredited voters for the election at 557,443 and total valid votes as 537,407.
The rejected votes were 12,835 and the total number of votes cast was 550,242. Prof. Rim-Rukeh announced that Obaseki, having scored the highest number of votes was therefore declared the winner of the election.
Obaseki won in 13 of the 18 Local Governments Areas of the state, namely: Orhionmwon, Igueben, Owan West, Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha, Esan West, Esan Central, Esan South East, Esan North East, Uhumwode, Egor, Ovia North East and Ovia South West.
At the collation centre, the Collation Officer for Etsako Central, however, disclosed that an INEC official was shot and another INEC staff member was injured on the face.
He noted that both of them were battling for their lives at an undisclosed hospital. Obaseki meanwhile has hailed Edo people and supporters of his party for their display of immense courage and support amid what he described as threats, intimidation and brutalization.
The governor in his appreciation message in Benin City on Sunday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other stakeholders who participated in the conduct of the gubernatorial election for ensuring a free, peaceful and credible poll in the state.
Obaseki said: “The great people of Edo State have spoken. They have spoken loud and clear.
We thank God Almighty and give him all the glory for this victory.
“Thank you, President Muhammadu Buhari, for defending our democracy and allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to perform their constitutional functions without interference.
“INEC and the security services have shown to Nigerians and the world that they are capable of conducting free and credible elections.”
The governor said further: “Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization.
The collective will of Edo people made it possible for this triumph over godfatherism.
“I am eternally grateful to my party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and my brother governors not only for giving me the umbrella during my political storm but for the hard work which has brought me back to office.
“Our success has reinforced my belief that there is nothing we cannot achieve as a people if we pull forces together and collectively call on God for support.
“I reiterate that working with my Deputy, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, we are committed to Making Edo Great Again. Thank you for your support.”
But APC alleged foul play, urging party members to stay calm while party leaders study the result and decide on the next step.
In a statement by the Chairman of the APC Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, the party said: “Our people were arbitrarily arrested and many of the figures were fabricated. Areas where we won, they cancelled them.
They decreased the votes in areas we had advantage.
They rejected our results and jerked up theirs.” President Muhammadu Buhari commended the election process in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Sunday.
He said: “My commitment to free and fair elections is firm, because without free and fair elections, the foundation of our political and moral authority will be weak.
“I have consistently advocated for free and fair elections in the country because it is the bedrock of true democratic order.
“Democracy will mean nothing if the votes of the people don’t count or if their mandate is fraudulently tampered with.”
He commended the people of Edo, the parties, candidates and security agencies for conducting themselves responsibly.
Also, the Senate Minority Caucus congratulated Obaseki. In a statement in Abuja by Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Caucus said as sweet as the victory, it signals a new dawn and the ultimate end of godfatherism in Nigeria politics.
Abaribe who also hailed the PDP for its tenacity and resilience in the face of manifest intimidations, said the victory confirmed that power ultimately belongs to the people and not to some phantom individuals who think they can play God and toy with the will and wishes of the people.
“Going forward, I believe that the Edo people through their overwhelming endorsement of Governor Obaseki and PDP sent the right signal across, affirming that never again should any political party succumb to the undemocratic machination of some few, who like to play tin-gods because of their supposedly rich pocket.
“This victory is a soothing balm not only for Edo people, but also for the entire country especially against the backdrop of the excruciating sufferings and hardship foisted on the people by the APC-led federal government.”
The Caucus urged the people of Ondo State to be ready to replicate what happened in Edo State so that Nigeria would be returned to genuine and people-oriented democracy.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom also congratulated Obaseki in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Terver Akase, saying the victory was a “true reflection of the wishes of Edo people and not the machinations of some individuals and self-acclaimed gods.”
He commended the dogged determination of Obaseki to “overcome intimidation and uphold the mandate his people popularly gave him.”
The governor equally congratulated the people of Edo, the PDP and Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, who was the Chairman of the PDP Campaign Team for the election.
He said the Independent National Electoral Commission also deserves plaudits for the credible conduct of the polls and for not yielding to pressure to thwart the will of the people.
On its part, Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) hailed INEC for its neutrality. Mr Ikenga Ugochinyere, spokesperson of CUPP, in a statement in Abuja said the development was a promising sign of a new, decent, electoral order in the country.
Ugochinyere also commended INEC staff members who, according to him, resisted pressure to swap results. He described Obaseki’s victory as a triumph of peoples’ power.
“There is no doubt that this is a hardearned victory considering the tension that enveloped the nation’s political space ahead of the electoral contest.
“CUPP viewed Obaseki’s victory and re-election for second term as a triumph of peoples’ ultimate power to freely elect their leaders without any coercion.
“The people of Edo, with the massive support given to Obaseki, have spoken with a loud voice that they will no longer tolerate electoral rascality from people within and outside the state, no matter how highly placed,” he said.
Ugochinyere said CUPP also commended Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers for ensuring that the peoples’ will prevailed in Edo State.
“In rejoicing with Governor Obaseki, we urge him not to renege on his electoral promises that endeared him to the people of the state,” he said.
He urged Obaseki to reciprocate the peoples’ gesture by delivering good governance. This was as a former aviation minister, Chief Osita Chidoka, described the performance of Pastor Osagie IzeIyamu as gallant.
He said Ize-Iyamu among other candidates, gave Obaseki a good fight in spite of the odds. He urged the APC candidate to hold his head up high and see the results as announced by INEC as a reflection of the people’s will.
He said: “If I were Ize-Iyamu, I would have called Gov. Obaseki before the final announcement of results. He should be proud of himself as a politician because this election, like no other event, defined him as a strong politician.
“Those who four years ago, called him liar, thief, cultist recanted, not many get that opportunity.
The outing against a sitting governor was not bad; he maintained his following, across the state, in spite of the baggage of his political party and chief supporter.
“This is not sunset, it is twilight and the sun may yet shine again in his future endeavours; glorious future beckons if you rise above self and claim victory.
Pastor, make the call now. It will turn defeat to victory and redefine you.”